Dog Lipoma: A Tell-All Guide To Your Dog’s Lumps & Bumps

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / May 21, 2018
Dog Lipoma

What is a Lipoma in Dogs?

A lipoma is a benign, fatty tissue mass that typically develops as a lump or bump under the skin. Dog Lipomas are the most common form of non-cancerous soft tissue growths found in canines. Lipomas tend to be fairly slow-growing, soft, and easily manipulated. The fatty tissue masses grow over time, so it is important to keep an eye on them to

Dog Lipoma

ensure they do not present any issues for your dog.

With that being said, while they aren’t pleasant to look at, dog lipomas generally pose no harm to your pup.

As the most common type of benign tumor in older dogs, nearly every senior citizen dog will develop at least one lipoma.

However, just because the benign tumors typically do not cause any harm, that doesn’t mean pet owners can disregard them altogether. If your dog is developing a growth, it makes sense you would want to know why.

So let’s get into it! Here’s everything you should know about these benign fatty masses known as dog lipomas.

Lipoma Definition

A lipoma is defined as a benign tumor of fatty tissue.

Where Are Lipomas Typically Found?

Most often, lipomas are found under the skin, on the upper arms, neck, underarms, and torso but can occur almost anywhere on the dog, including in muscle tissue.

If the lipoma is under the skin, it will be soft and squishy and you will be able to move it around. Conversely, dog lipomas that grow in the muscle tissue typically feel very hard.

Bump Under Skin: Is it Dog Lipoma?

Lumps and bumps under the skin are the most typical signs of dog lipomas.

Fatty tumors also commonly exhibit the following symptoms:

  • They are small in size: between 1 cm and 3 cm in dimension.
  • The fatty tissues are able to be felt under the skin.
  • Lipomas tend to be soft and rubbery in consistency.
  • They are able to be moved around.
  • Dog lipomas grow very slowly over time.

While it is possible for only one to develop, it is more common for the dog to have multiple lipomas.

Lipomas can go unnoticed by the dog unless they are growing in an area that disrupts normal movement.

In the vast majority of cases, lipomas do not cause any pain for the dog.

They are often found on the dog’s belly but can develop nearly anywhere.

Canine Lipoma Pictures

The following are pictures of dog lipoma. This is merely additional information and not a way to self-diagnose your pup. A vet examination will be necessary in order to diagnose the bump accurately.

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Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Why Does My Dog Have a Fatty Tumor: Dog Lipoma Causes

Studies show that veterinarians treat approximately 1.7 million dogs for lipoma every year. It’s crazy to think that that number is strictly for dog lipomas. It doesn’t even begin to cover all of the other lumps and bumps that begin to appear as the dog gets older.

With a large number of lipomas receiving treatment each year, one has to be curious as to what could be possibly causing so many fatty tumors to form.

A healthy body rids itself of toxins utilizing the liver, kidneys, and intestines. When the body is out of balance and unable to rid itself of toxins through the normal channels, it attempts to clear the toxicity through another organ, the skin. Lipomas and other fatty tumors are the results of the body trying to rid itself of toxins through the skin.

Researchers believe that three main components lead to lipomas forming.

Dog Lipoma poor dietPoor Diet

A major contributor to toxicity in your dog’s body could be their diet. Chemical preservatives, carbohydrates, and other toxins are all found in processed foods and can all lead to fatty tumors developing.

Additionally, pet owners should be aware of the quality of water they are giving their dogs. The chlorine found in tap water has the potential to cause great harm to your dog’s thyroid endocrine system. Make sure to always give your pup filtered water.

Toxins from Chemicals and Medications

We completely understand that you want to keep your dog protected from fleas, ticks, and heartworms. However, the medications that your vet prescribes are not only toxic to the parasites but your four-legged companion as well. Many natural alternatives are available and are not only safe, but effective.

Environmental Toxins

Your dog’s day-to-day activities may be a large contributing factor to the toxicity in their body. Toxins such as pesticides and herbicides can be incredibly damaging for your dog and these treatments are sprayed constantly in many neighborhoods.

If walking through potentially contaminated areas is apart of your dog’s daily routine, be sure to wash their paws off with soap and water once your back inside. This will ensure that the toxins don’t absorb through your dog’s paws and that they don’t lick the chemicals off their feet.

Dogs with a Predisposition for Developing Lipomas

Most traditional veterinarians will tell you that there no dogs at a predisposition for developing lipomas. While it is true that older dogs are more prone to developing lipoma lumps, dogs of all ages, breeds, and sex can develop lipomas.

Dog Lipoma fat dog

Additionally, lipomas can form in dogs that are too thin, obese, neutered, or spayed. However, a holistic veterinarian might argue that there may be

a link between lipomas and dogs with metabolism issues.

Metabolism Issues

Many holistic veterinarians believe that the number and size of the skin tumors correlate to the dog’s ability to metabolize fat.

Dogs that have an underactive metabolism have a higher tendency of developing lumps of fat cells.

While lipomas are nothing to panic about, it is important for pet owners to monitor them in order to make sure they aren’t growing at a fast rate as this could be a sign of something more serious.

Lumps on Dogs: More Common Than You Think

Any veterinarian will tell you that lumps on dogs are incredibly common. From insect bites to allergies, we can almost guarantee that at some point in your dog’s life, you’ll find a little bump somewhere.

Environmental allergies or food allergies can also cause hives under the skin that can appear as lumps and bumps.

However, not all lumps and bumps are harmless. If you find a lump on your dog, a veterinarian should diagnose it right away.

Malignant Fatty Tumors vs Benign Tumors

An important fact that pet owners should be aware of is that not all fatty tumors are benign. Mast cell tumors and other subcutaneous masses can mimic the appearance of a dog lipoma. The massive difference between tumors (such as mast cell tumors) and lipomas is that mast cell is a malignant tumor.

Malignant tumors grow and spread and need immediate medical treatment.

Soft tissue sarcomas are another cancerous form of tumors that develop in the connective tissues of dogs. The first sign of a soft tissue sarcoma is a painless lump in the torso, arms, or legs. As you remember, painless lumps in the torso, arms, or legs are also clinical signs of lipomas. However, soft tissue sarcomas can be deadly if not detected and often require extensive radiation therapy.

Therefore, it is imperative that pet owners receive a proper diagnosis of whatever lump or bump they find on their dog. While it may be benign, there’s always the chance that it could be something more serious.

Dog Lipoma fine needle biopsyDiagnosing Fatty Tumors in Dogs

Your veterinarian will do a full exam on your dog as well as diagnostic tests in order to accurately confirm that the lump is a lipoma.

These tests include:

  • A fine needle aspirate
  • Microscopic evaluation of cells
  • Biopsy of the tissue

Benign Lipoma Treatment

It is a common practice for a veterinarian to remove any lump or bump that they find. However, it is not always necessary or recommended in the holistic community.

Removing Lipomas – Not Always Necessary

Unless the benign fatty lumps are interfering with your dog’s quality of life, your holistic vet will most likely not recommend removing it.

After your vet performs a fine-needle aspiration and the results show the fat cells to be harmless, the size and date should be put on record and simply monitored in the future.

When Is Surgical Removal Necessary?

Your holistic veterinarian will probably tell you that surgery is only necessary when the lipomas are affecting your dog’s quality of life.

For instance, if the lipoma is growing in the armpit and begins to irritate the dog when walking or if the lipoma is on the torso and agitates the dog while they are lying down.

Lipoma Removal Cost

The surgical removal of a lipoma can also be quite expensive, ranging from $200 to $500 per mass and closer to $1000 if the mass is connected to tissue or in a challenging location to operate on.

Dog Lipoma

Preventing Lipomas & Keeping Fido Happy

If your pup receives a benign dog lipoma diagnosis, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Most lipomas do not cause the dog any discomfort and will not affect their quality of life.

There are ways to help prevent lipomas from developing and they all circle back to the one element we should all be avoiding in our day-to-day lives: toxins.

Ensuring that your four-legged companion has a filtered water source, non-GMO natural food, a healthy body mass index, clean, smoke-free air, and monitored exposure to environmental toxins will help your pup live a happy, long life with limited lumps and bumps.


What is dog lipoma removal cost?

Can I see dog lipoma pictures?

Is dog lipoma aspiration always necessary?


Lipomas And Other Canine Lumps And Bumps

Dog Lipoma! A Visual Guide for Concerned Pet Parents

What Causes Fatty Tumors in Dogs?

About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for